You might be wondering how does the Philadelphia area compare with other areas in the nation when it comes to the mortgage crisis. Surprisingly, most of the region has escaped the worst, and is better off than the rest of the country.
Currently, there are 10.7 million homeowners with mortgages, and 22.1 percent nationwide owe more money on those loans than they could get if they sold their houses – effectively putting them “underwater” or “upside-down.”
Together, borrowers with negative equity or near-negative equity accounted for 27.1 percent of all residential properties with mortgages in the third quarter.
Among the 6.3 million primary U.S. mortgages without home equity, the average loan balance is $222,000, CoreLogic says and those mortgages are underwater by an average of $52,000, for a loan-to-value ratio of 131 percent.
Most homeowners, of course, are in no danger of drowning. For those who can continue to make payments on time and aren’t planning to refinance, negative equity is just another number.
So, how do you fair against the rest? Unless you live on a street where every house but yours is in foreclosure, your equity – though perhaps less than it was in 2007, at the peak of housing’s boom – still exists.
In the eight-county Philadelphia region, CoreLogic reports, 70,615 residential properties with mortgages, or 7.9 percent, had negative equity in the third quarter, compared with 7.7 percent, or 69,658 properties, in the second quarter.
Locally, the “underwater” housing stock has remained fairly consistent since the end of 2009. Stated another way, 66,000 to 70,000 of the region’s homeowners with mortgages have owed more than the value of their houses since 2009.
How have we escaped the worst so far?
First the houses in our region have generally held their value better compared to most other metro areas, the housing boom arrived in our region later than most other parts of the country so housing prices did not become overinflated and cause exotic mortgages to finance these overpriced homes. Generally speaking, fewer buyers overreached in the Philadelphia region because prices did not rise as much as they did in other areas of the country.
Loan-to-value ratio determines the effective rate of interest on a mortgage. Say you wanted to buy a $100,000 house and borrowed $80,000 to do it. The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio would be 80 percent, with your equity 20 percent of the total value.
In Pennsylvania, average LTV is 61.3 percent, meaning a typical homeowner owns 38.7 percent of the house.
It is easy to suggest that homeowners stay put and wait for better times.